Are You Using the Right Data to Drive Decisions?

Across the public sector, agencies are faced with the challenge of understanding how to drive decisions by using analytics. With such tight budgets, limited resources and ever growing complexities facing public administrators, government is challenged with the task of identifying the best way to use data to enhance citizen services.

As operational challenges grow in governance, understanding data also becomes more complex. With the enormous amount of data available to public administrators and citizens, finding the right data to make an informed decision is one of many obstacles for the public sector. Another challenge is what to do with the right data and learning how the data can help improve the specific problem the agency is seeking to address.

I clearly remember being put into a position where I had access to enormous volumes data, but was not necessarily equipped with the right data and tools to make an informed decision. At the time, I was working for a non-profit agency and we were considering purchasing a second office. I started my analysis by focusing on a set of issues that I needed to solve, and moved forward thinking about what data I needed to perform my analysis. For instance, I asked questions like – “what will the impact be on donations,” “what other expenses will we incur by opening a new office?”, “what kind of implications does this have for staff?” Within each of those sets of questions, I was able to look for the right data I needed to perform my analysis.

What I found was that much of the data I needed to make a strong analysis, did not exist or had not been collected at our non-profit. I was finding that we needed to make strategic moves to develop the right data to improve business functions, it became more than just my analysis if we should purchase a second office. I found that many of the analytics we were developing would help support other important business functions of the non-profit.

The lesson is that as you begin to craft your analytics and work towards making a dashboard, you will learn so much about your organizations needs and areas of improvements. It’s not just the data that is telling you solutions, it is the investment of your time to think critically about your agency as well.

Finding the right data and developing the right analytics is critical to your success, and an absolute challenge. Driving decisions from well informed analytics will be critical to the success of agencies. To work towards solving complex issues in government, data needs to be well understood and agencies need to invest significant time purely defining the problem they are challenged to solve.

Are You Using the Right Data to Drive Decisions?

This post is brought to you by the GovLoop Technology Solutions Council. The mission of this council is to provide you with information and resources to help improve government. Visit the GovLoop Technology Solutions Council to learn more.

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Henry Brown

IMO, the resources required to determine the correct data is somewhat overwhelming and the people who are expected to make the decision(s) don’t want to invest the resources(including time) to insure that the best possible decision is being made

Pat Fiorenza

Thanks for your comments, Henry. I think that is for sure a challenge facing some agencies and managing big data continues to be an issue for government agencies. With that being said, if an employee is using the wrong data to make decisions, the agency has larger issues at hand. The investment should be made in finding the right data and making the right decision. I think it’s kind of fun to do – but maybe that’s just me!